Dr Zhang on the Evolution of the Use of Belzutifan in RCC

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Tian Zhang, MD, MHS, discusses the evolution of the use of belzutifan in renal cell carcinoma, highlighting which key oncologists have been involved in this research.

Tian Zhang, MD, MHS, associate professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center, discusses the evolution of the use of belzutifan (Welireg) in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), highlighting which key oncologists have been involved in this research.

At the 2023 International Kidney Cancer Symposium (IKCS), oncologists were prominently featured on a panel that traced the trajectory of belzutifan, spanning from preclinical drug discovery to its regulatory approval for patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease who require therapy for associated RCC, central nervous system hemangioblastomas, or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that do not require immediate surgery. In September 2023, the FDA granted priority review to the supplemental new drug application seeking the approval of belzutifan for the treatment of previously treated patients with advanced RCC following immune checkpoint and anti-angiogenic therapies.

The panel featured Bruce Posner, PhD, a key contributor from UT Southwestern, who played a pivotal role in the exploration of HIF2α inhibitors, Zhang says, noting that Dr Posner played a key role in small molecule drug discovery and refining these inhibitors for enhanced efficacy and safety in patient care. The journey initiated with the discovery of the initial molecule at UT Southwestern and progressed into clinical development, Zhang explains.

The first 2 trials primarily focused on patients with VHL syndrome, with Eric Jonasch, MD, leading and publishing the trial for VHL syndrome, she expands. This trial demonstrated the significant benefits of belzutifan not only in clear cell kidney cancer but also in addressing hemangioblastomas and various blood vessel malformations characteristic of VHL syndrome, she says.

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